Ready or not, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be live May 25, 2018.

While your business may not be in the EU, it is just as important for US companies to be prepared.

Businesses need to make changes in how they collect, store, monitor, and use data of all types. And yes, this could have a potential effect on your digital advertising.

What is GDPR?

GDPR was developed by the European Parliament and European Council to replace the 1995 Data Protection Directive.

According to the GDPR website, it was designed to:

“harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

 For digital marketers, here are some of the most prominent sections:

  • Personal data can only be used with the express consent of the consumer
  • Consumers have the “right to be forgotten” and a “right of data portability”
  • Safe and secure administrative record – keeping requirements

Ultimately, it is an unmatched level of governing overview and requires companies to ensure a very high-level of data protection for consumers.

What does the GDPR mean for U.S. based businesses?

The GDPR will impact any business using data from European consumers. This does include data used to target consumers for marketing campaigns, and those gathering information based on user behavior.

What changes does this bring?

Advertisers can expect to see 3rd party data connections diminish, and an array of changes across terms and contracts.

This year, alongside the Cambria Analytica data breach, Facebook announced it will end Partner Categories as a targeting options. Partner Categories helped Facebook segment their user base into more meaningful groups via third-party data.

In a statement, Facebook said,

“we want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories. This product enables third-party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”

 For Google, we’ve seen updated terms & contractual protections across their entire suite of products.

Here’s Google’s statement:

“where we act as a processor of personal data, we will update our agreements to reflect the obligations of controllers and processors and offer data-processing agreements where required in time for May 2018, including for AdWords Customer Match, AdWords Store sales (direct upload), DoubleClick Digital Marketing (including DoubleClick Bid Manager, DoubleClick Campaign Manager, DoubleClick Search), Google Analytics Suite (including Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Optimize, Data Studio, Attribution, Audience Center, Google Analytics for Firebase), Google Cloud Platform, and G Suite products and Managed Google Play. Additionally, for online advertising products where Google and the customer each act as independent controllers of personal data, we will update our agreements or make available controller-controller data protection terms. This includes AdWords (including Shopping and Hotel Ads, but not AdWords features where we act as a processor of personal data) and Google Customer Reviews.”

What should you be watching to keep advertising plans uninterrupted?


With Facebook ending their relationship with all 3rd party data providers, advertisers need to be aware of how their current campaigns are using targeting. If using 3rd party data, there will be interruptions.

In terms of other display targeting, while some ad servers still have relationships with 3rd party data, be on the lookout for changes that could interrupt advertising campaigns.

To avoid interruptions, start looking at your advertising campaigns through the lens of aligning your message with consumer intent through context, geography, or 1st party data targeting.

As more changes are evident, we will continue to keep this article updated for reference.

**This article is not a substitute for legal advice. You should seek advice from a legal professional on GDPR to ensure you are in compliance with all areas of the new regulation.** 

Email Chris, or Laura, to learn more about how GDPR can effect your digital advertising.

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